Kristen has grown up in the streets since the age of five, becoming a skillful pickpocket to provide for herself and her little brother. Then one day she has the good luck to be caught picking the pocket of Trevor Claremont, the Duke of Chatsworth. It was good luck because, after she accidentally shoots him in the shoulder, he promises not to turn her in to the law as long as she agrees to become his wife.
Now this is where the story begins to stretch one's credulity. Why would a wealthy duke need (or want) to blackmail a THIEF to become his wife? Most dukes would be a lot more concerned about a potential wife's breeding and background than this one appears to be. His reasoning--that he needs a wife quickly to placate his ailing grandmother--just doesn't ring true when the grandmother turns out to be a cranky old woman whose complaints seem to amuse Trevor rather than cause him to worry.
However, if you can ignore some of the mistakes in logic and historical accuracy, you may find yourself enjoying the story. (I always did like fairy tales as a child!) It is obvious that Trevor loves Kristen; however, his own loveless childhood has taught him to distrust people. The idea of a marriage bargain without involving love is his way of avoiding the pain of the inevitable rejection. Kristen doesn't want to admit to loving Trevor either, because she knows that he doesn't truly love or even trust her.
The best part of the book is after their marriage as the duke and his duchess explore their physical feelings for each other and--together with her brother and the grumpy grandmother--begin to function as the caring family that neither has had before. But a malevolent force just around the corner will test their courage and determine their destiny.
This book has the protagonists meet when the heroine steals from the hero. As a result, he offers her a marriage of convenience to satisfy his grandmother. Not too likely to occur, especially in the stilted society of Regency England. It has a nice touch with the little brother being carried along by his sister. But the improbable situations just were too much for me to keep this for another read-through.